I first came across Emmanuel Jal in a TED Talk http://www.ted.com/ the talk was http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/emmanuel_jal_the_music_of_a_war_child.html
Emmanuel,as the picture from his hip-hop album suggests was a “war child”. He comes from Sudan where there was a terrible civil war and he saw his mother killed, his brothers die and became a war child, a child, who, at the age of eight went out with a gun in his hand to kill others
He experienced things as a child that no child should ever have to experience. He was rescued from the hell by a young British aid worker called Emma McCune.
She took him to Kenya at first and later on he finished up in London.
He could have been scarred for life by his experiences and finished up a bitter and twisted person. But he has a strong Christian faith and a belief in the potential of humanity and the power of reconciliation.
I cannot do justice to this marvellously talented young man who is a poet, a gifted hip hop recording artist as well as a writer (he has written his own life story called War Child (Amazon.co.uk link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_4_7?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=emmanuel+jal&sprefix=emmanue
What hooked me was his desire to do something positive for Sudan so as to look forward and not back at the tragic past.
He has started a charity called Gua Africa www.gua–africa.org/ which is the spearhead of his campaign to build a school in the Sudan to be named after his “rescuer” Emma McCune (who tragically died in a car accident in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993 at the age of just 29).
To help build this school he has just one meal a day and saves the money he would have spent to help build the school. So far they have raised $134122 of the $250000 needed to build the “Emma Academy” .
In the words of Gua Africa themselves:
“GUA Africa has been granted 15 acres of land in Leer, West Upper Nile, by the government of South Sudan. Our goal is to build a high quality education centre for the whole community, which is to be called the Emma Academy, as a legacy to Emma McCune who lies in rest in Leer.
The twenty year long Sudanese civil war has meant that schooling in South Sudan today mostly consists of teaching under trees. Many former child soldiers have not found their way back into education, and traditionally only 1 in 5 girls are supported to finish High School.”
I have taken it upon myself to do what little I can to use the power of the networked communities that I belong to to publicise Emmanuel’s quest to build this school.
If it wasn’t for TED and the power of technology I would probably never have had the opportunity to know about Emmanuel, enjoy his music and maybe, in a small way, add my voice to those who are trying to help him build this school. It will not provide the solution to all of Africa’s problems and Emmanuel knows that, but it makes a statement about education as a means of change and education as a process to overcome the many deep sores caused by the madness of the past.
If you get the chance please follow the links in this posting and maybe join the campaign or make some small contribution to Gua Africa.
I thought I’d end with just one act of fundraising taken from the “Gua Africa” site. The “Emma Academy” campaign is worldwide and they will build the school.
A big thank you to…
Whilst our founder Emmanuel Jal performed at an event in Mexico City, Jacqueline Atri Mercado, was so moved by what she was hearing she spontaneously decided to run around the crowd asking for donations for GUA Africa! She raised an amazing 15,520 Mexican Pesos (around $1,200). Jacqueline handed over the money to Emmanuel’s management with a letter that said: “I am a jewish woman who fights for humility and honesty; with these two principles together, I have gathered a few showings of love, empathy and respect. Every coin represents a moved heart, these hearts that respect every tear in the life of every human being. God Bless you!